Tag Archives: hiking in New Mexico

Awe

Moon, Cliffs, Cottonwoods, by Betsy James

From hike journal, 10.8.95:

The day began and ended with a moon so big and orange it looked unreal, beyond natural, godlike: something to worship, for how could something so strange not be holy?

In the morning, as I drove down to meet the others at 7 a.m., the setting moon was about to touch the western horizon, oval as a big squashed orange. I stopped the pickup and said, “Oh!

In the evening, as we drove wearily home at dusk, there she was again, rising: weird, enormous, still infinitesimally touching the purple mountains. We came over a rise in the road and all together said, “Oh!

Later they switched moons on us and there was only that little cold dime, high in the sky.

Rain

After long heat, rain and chill at last. The little tinajas in the sandstone have sips of water now for birds, foxes, coyotes.

The sinuous watercourses are full of red mud. This collared lizard—male? female?—out and about before cold weather, was actually an outrageous neon chartreuse. With a muddy face.

Two Joys

Two-track and Red Star, Betsy James

One: two-tracks, the dusty, lonely roads that follow the contours of the West. The one above reminds me of a long-ago hike taken from the low road to Zuni.

Two: hiking high and wild, to beat the heat and get up where breathing is a pleasure. Lately that has meant the Jemez Mountains, raked over by wildfires but springing up green with the monsoon rains. We just missed the wild raspberries: the bears got there first.

Obsidian Ridge

Shining and blackest black: the obsidian of the Jemez Mountains at one of its prehistoric sources.

The closest road had been closed for years—at least since the Las Conchas fire in 2011—and was blocked  by the enormous trunks of dozens of burned and wind-fallen Ponderosas. We hiked the dusty three miles in.

For thousands of years, prehistoric miners knocked down big  cobbles of obsidian into pieces more easily carried to distant pueblos, where they would be knapped into knives, scrapers, projectile points. What is left is debitage; whole acres of mesa glitter with a pavement of black glass.